January 6, 2009 - News

Shelter on wheels: A UVic-community partnership leads to “shelter in a cart” for homeless “binners”
You may think it’s the end of the line when you put a beverage container into your recycling bin, but as Jutta Gutberlet knows, it’s really just the beginning. The University of Victoria geographer is finding ways to help make life better for informal recyclers or “binners”—people who make their living collecting the beverage containers we put in our recycling bins and dumpsters. “Informal recycling is a widespread activity in countries around the world,” says Gutberlet. “And it’s becoming more and more prevalent in Canada. Binning is playing an increasingly important role in keeping recyclable waste out of landfills, especially in Victoria and Vancouver.” Binners, many of whom are homeless or socially isolated, often follow regular routes through city streets, travelling substantial distances and working long hours to collect and return bottles and cans. Because many binners are homeless, they may not have anywhere to leave their personal belongings while they’re collecting. Transporting both personal belongings and collected containers is a big problem.